By Chris Lawrence
Turkey fired on targets in Syria in response to the shelling of a Turkish border town in which five civilians were killed Wednesday, a statement from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office said.
A senior defense official says the Pentagon is watching the cross-border attacks between Syria and Turkey with some degree of concern, “but at this point, there’s nothing to suggest it’s going to become a broader conflict.”
The official says Pentagon officials have been closely watching what’s happening between the two nations, but at this point have not initiated any further military-to-military contact with their Turkish allies in response to this issue.
The official says this doesn’t look to be large-scale aerial bombardment, but rather a smaller-scale border skirmish.
“We think this is Turkey basically saying ‘Don’t mess with us. Whatever is going on inside Syria, don’t mess with us,” the official said.
The official says both nations would have an interest in not allowing the conflict to escalate.
“In some ways, Turkey would have more to lose in that kind of fight than Syria. They’ve already got a potential refugee problem coming from Syria, and a fight would only make that worse.” The official also adds that “Syria has so many problems right now, the last thing the government needs is to add another.”
At this point the State Department is taking the lead in talking to Turkey for the U.S., according to the official.
There has been no directive from the Pentagon to change security procedures for US troops in Turkey, although each individual command is given the responsibility to enact security protocols as they see fit. Pentagon officials were not aware of any changes.